The Arty Semite

Looted Paintings Returned to Poland

By Lil Swanson

  • Print
  • Share Share
Lil Swanson
Recoverd at Last: Julian Falat’s ‘The Hunt’ on display at Polish Consulate in New York. The painting, which was looted by the Nazis, was recovered after a court battle.

Two oil paintings stolen by the Nazis 67 years ago from the walls of Poland’s National Museum in Warsaw were returned Thursday night to the people and government of Poland in a ceremony held at the Polish consulate in New York.

Polish artist Julian Falat painted the works, “The Hunt” and “Off to the Hunt” in the late 1800s. They were among the prize works at the Polish museum that were confiscated in August 1944 when the German S.S. took over the museum and removed its most valuable treasures.

The location of the two paintings remained unknown until 2006 when Polish government authorities discovered they were up for sale at two auction houses in New York City. It took a federal court case to win forfeiture of the paintings as stolen property so they could be returned to Poland.

In the ceremony at the consulate, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Poland’s minister of culture and national heritage, told the crowd, the return of the artwork meant so much because two World Wars and various uprisings “have made Polish national heritage nearly impoverished.

“That is why every object returned has a huge value, not just tangible, but also spiritual and emotional,” he said in his native Polish, which was translated into English.

The whereabouts of most of the artwork stolen from the national museum remains unknown.

The culture minister thanked especially the U.S. authorities who had worked for years to untangle the case. About a dozen members of the Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit, and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York were on hand to witness the transfer ceremony.

According to a press statement, Falat’s painting, “Off to the Hunt” was first displayed publicly in 1901 at the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In December 1939, it was transferred to the Polish National Museum, which was used by the Nazis during the war as a repository of Polish national treasures.

The painting, last documented at the museum, was removed without its frame. The other work, “The Hunt” was bequeathed in 1914 by its owner to the society, and later moved to the museum.

Poland’s president, Bronislaw Komorowski, accepted the paintings, displayed on two easels nearby, on behalf of his government.

Following a short signing ceremony, permitting the transfer of the artwork across U.S. boundaries, Zdrojewski invited the U.S. authorities and others attending the ceremony “to come see them on the walls of the National Museum in Warsaw, and enjoy them with us.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Visual Art, Looted Art, Julian Falat, Bronislaw Komorowski, Bogdan Zdrojewski

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.